Book Review: 朱尔多日记 Zhu Er’s Diary

This review is of a bridging book set 朱尔多日记 (Zhū ěr’s Diary), which is ideal for middle-to-upper primary school readers. My daughter borrowed it recently from the library.  Until that point, I really thought we’d heard of most of the better known early chapter booksets from mainland China, especially those written in diary format, but apparently not.  朱尔多日记 has been a welcomed discovery.   

Key Information on 朱尔多日记 series

  • Series name: 朱尔多日记 (Zhu Er’s Diary) 
  • Author:  黄宇 (Huang Yu)
  • Number of books in set:  6 (at least?)
  • Number of lines per page:  13
  • Number of pages per book:  133 pages
  • Total length of the book:  18,000 characters
  • Characters required by child to read it independently: 1500+
  • Pinyin: Yes
  • Bilingual: No
  • Available in Singapore NLB: Yes
  • Original language of publication:  Chinese
  • Audio available: no
  • Suggested aged:  9 – 12

Synopsis of 朱尔多日记

Think of the American favorite Diary of a Wimpy Kid…… .  what’s different in 朱尔多日记 is that the main protagonist, Zhu Er, is a schoolboy in Mainland China.    Zhu Er is one mischievous kid, who brings readers on a journey filled with antics, humour, and daily musings in his partially-doodled diary.  In fact some of the book covers in this set are so similar to that of the Chinese version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, that you’d be forgiven for confusing the two. 

The concept is also somewhat similar to the infamous Mi Xiao Quan Diaries 米小圈 , in that the series comprises of several books for every level of school which Zhu Er goes through.  Each book is filled with the joys, jokes and secrets of the schoolyard and his classmates.  It’s funny and grotesque all in one.  The books are more text intense than Mi Xiao Quan, but have pinyin above all characters.

Huang Yu, the author, is a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, with a psychology / counselling background.  You’ll see bits of this shine through in the stories.  The books have sold more than 6 million copies (which probably isn’t a big milestone for China market) and have won several awards.  The same author has written over 100 other books (100 books!!!!!), most of which are built around positive mindset-building stories which children will relate to.

What my daughter likes about the series

  • Not to heavy and not too light:  The books are specifically designed as an early reader / bridging , fairly approachable for a motivated mid-primary schooler to read independently (the pinyin helps)
  • Very relevant and comical for a primary schooler: Er Duo complains in a humourous way about all the things your child probably complains about….. spelling tests, school swimming classes,  school dental clinic,  finding a gift for Mother’s Day, being bullied, and of course homework and more homework.
  • Balance of text and graphics: enough colorful illustrations, full of ideas and fun

What a parent will like about the series

  • Fits Singapore context: Of course this is written in mainland China, but it covers aspects like failing an exam, or having a classroom of 30+ kids, which are common place in Singapore too, and also common reasons for tensions to build up.
  • Has a resilience building mindset: Zhu Er is a kid who seems to get his perspectives right – he loves learning (for the most part) and doesn’t let himself be defined by his grades (and tries to convince his mother of this too)
  • Available to borrow from Singapore NLB

Insides of 朱尔多日记

朱尔多日记 example bridging book Chinese
朱尔多日记 example bridging book Chinese
朱尔多日记 example bridging book Chinese
朱尔多日记 has considerably more text than Mi Xiao Quan diaries

Where to buy it from

We borrowed our books from the library.  Buying it in Singapore I’ve only seen it listed at Maya Yuyi (honestly that’s the best place to buy books for upper primary age kids in Singapore… no one’s paying me to say this either!  If you know a better place with dependable recommendations, please drop me a line).

If my child likes this, what are other similar books in Simplified Chinese?

Some books which my children really enjoyed at a similar reading level and are:

  • Zoroli (review here)
  • Mi Xiao Quan 米小圈上学记一年级 (review here)
  • Detective Pipi 屁屁侦探推理版 (review here)
  • World History Adventure Comics 寻宝记 (review here)
  • Mandarin Companion’s Secret Garden 秘密花园 , and Sixty Year Dream 六十年的梦 among others (review here)

I would love to know what books you think are great at this same level! Please add any ideas below.

If you’re in Singapore, join the conversation with other like-minded parents at the FB Group Ni Hao Singapore Primary School learning, which I host along with a few other Singapore-based bloggers including Ms Claudia Lee Kimura.

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